2 Ways to Set Desktop Background Wallpaper Without Activation

The Personalization options such as Background, Colors, Lock Screen, Themes, Start, and Taskbar are grayed out if Windows is not activated. This post discusses two ways to change the desktop wallpaper in an unactivated Windows installation.

In a Windows 10 device which hasn’t been activated, the controls in Personalize window are locked down, and the message “You need to activate Windows before you can personalize your PC.” shows at the top.

set desktop background wallpaper without activation

Set Desktop Background Wallpaper without Activation

Option 1: Using the right-click menu or Ribbon command

Open the folder containing wallpaper images. The stock wallpapers are located under the following directories:

C:\windows\Web\Wallpaper
C:\windows\Web\4K
C:\windows\Web\Screen

Open a folder, right-click on an image file, and click Set as desktop background.

set desktop background wallpaper without activation

Note that you can click the “Set as background” Ribbon command that appears under the Manage tab when an image file is currently selected.

Option 2: Using Internet Explorer

Open Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer shortcut doesn’t exist in the Taskbar by default. You can launch Internet Explorer by searching for it in the Start menu, or by typing iexplore.exe in the Run (Win + R) dialog.

Paste the complete image file path in the Internet Explorer Address bar and press ENTER. You can type the path to an image file on the local computer or a website address.

set desktop background wallpaper without activation

Right-click on the image and click “Set as background”.

That’s it! These tricks can be useful when you’re testing Windows preview builds (without being activated) in virtual machine setup.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

Leave a Comment